These photographs by John M. Hall reveal the beautiful and unique home and garden of Anne Spencer in Lynchburg, Virginia. The house, which is registered as a Virginia Historic Landmark, served as a salon and southern outpost of the Harlem Renaissance, as the Spencers hosted literary luminaries such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson, and many others. Spencer also served as the first librarian at the all-black Dunbar High School from 1923-1945. During this period, she helped establish the Lynchburg chapter of the NAACP, led a campaign to hire black teachers, and served on committees to improve the legal, social, and economic aspects of African Americans’ lives.
Anne Spencer’s biographer, Professor Emeritus J. Lee Greene, noted that while moving through her home, Spencer would often “recall a person, an incident, a memory, an object that… made the room seem sacred to her.” This exhibit celebrates the rich legacy of Anne Spencer, including her poetry, her activism, her family, and her home. In addition to a performance by local musicians from the Durham Symphony Orchestra, the reception will include remarks by Professor Greene, photographer John M. Hall, and Spencer’s granddaughter, Shaun Spencer-Hester, who currently serves as curator for the Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum. North Carolina poet Jeffery Beam will read a small selection from Spencer’s work. You can listen to oral histories related to the Harlem Renaissance, African American poetry and activism, and many other related subjects here.
This event, which is co-sponsored by the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.